Business and the World Economy

Associate (Harvard): Brian Le
Associate (Sydney): Chamara Liyanage & Scott Waddell

Track Description:

Asian economies have gone through major upheavals in the last few decades. With the emergence of transnational trade, reductions in trade barriers, and greater levels of investment in the region, Asian economies have seen high levels of rapid growth. Globalization has lifted millions of people out of poverty and provided greater opportunities for local Asian businesses through a large wealth of investors and financiers. This rise in globalization, however, also means an increase in the likelihood of volatile changes in currency and capital flow as Asia becomes more integrated with the rest of the world. Coupling this with a rise in technology, Asia has also seen a sizeable increase in income inequality. To complicate issues even further, protectionism from the West has been on a rise in the past few years and threaten the benefits of globalization. In this track, we will explore the current trends affecting Asian economies and see how business leaders and policymakers are dealing with the ever-changing issues.

Panel Topics:

1 – Globalization and Free Trade

The importance of free trade cannot be overemphasized. However, rising protectionism and tighter trade policies, especially in the United States and Europe, threaten the current trends of rapid economic growth around the world. In this panel, we attempt to explore important questions including: how should Asian policymakers and business leaders work with the rest of the world to continue to promote domestic growth, global trade, and economic stability across borders? In addition, how should they maximize growth across all income brackets, and ensure it extends to the millions of unskilled workers in rural areas?

2 – Maintaining a Successful Business in the Modern Age

Business leaders in the modern age face a formidable amount of change. While new technology provides the opportunity for increased productivity, shifting labor markets also mean that many laborers are lacking the skills needed in the modern age. This panel will explore how international companies strike the balance between needs and wants of different people, how current high-level business leaders have managed to succeed in the face of change, and what challenges and potential opportunities they foresee in the upcoming future for their companies.

Entrepreneurship and Technology

Associate (Harvard): Faisal Younus
Associate (Sydney): Hermi Human & Vitalina Pischenko

Track Description:

Poverty, economic inequality, and a lack of access to health insurance and financial services present tangible issues which can be resolved by resourceful entrepreneurs. However, one major issue, especially prevalent in the Southeast Asian region, is the lack of accessible funding for these projects. In this track, we explore major new areas for development across Asia and ways to capitalize on intersecting markets across the region while attracting investors. With startup culture encapsulating a major share of the entrepreneurship landscape across the world, we will categorize unique niches across Asia that can be addressed, and explore them in our panels.

Panel Topics:

1 – The 3rd Wave: Emerging Technologies and Field Application

Steve Case details in NY Times Bestseller “The Third Wave” that modern tech entrepreneurship presented itself in three waves. The first wave brought forward the internet, and with it the infrastructural network to bring the whole world online. The second focused on providing applications and services to leverage this network to the world at large. The third, supposedly beginning now, has entrepreneurship focus on systemic issues affecting the world, ranging from resource scarcity to sectors such as health, transportation, education, etc. With the rise of AI and IoT, massive structural unemployment awaits in the near future as technology will be leveraged to max-efficiency. There are significant developmental disparities across Asia in aforementioned sectors with cities such as Seoul boasting the world’s fastest and most accessible internet services but cities with almost no technological integration. We ask the questions: what novel technologies and fields can be tapped to find solutions to existing problems? How can these new innovations, such as AI, actually cause problems by “taking” jobs from society? How can Asia in particular, with the Global South dealing with rampant poverty, deal with such issues as technologically driven structural unemployment?

2 – Start-Ups – from VCs to Founders

Starting a company is an immensely challenging task – from developing a novel idea to searching for the necessary network of co-founders and talent to procuring the funding necessary to spearhead your venture, the task is an exhaustive process that requires immense time, utmost attention to detail, and invested energy into the projects. In this panel, we will focus on building a company from ideation to iteration and sensibility to scalability. This panel will also address the barriers in start-ups that are unique to the Asia-Pacific and creative solutions to overcome such barriers.

Environment and Sustainability

Associate (Harvard): Ryan Jiang
Associate (Sydney): Michelle Wang & Julian Vidal

Track Description:

In the middle of rapid economic, population, and social growth, Asia must confront its increasing demand for natural resources. Unfortunately, rapid growth has often been coupled with rampant environmental destruction; the first half of this decade has seen devastating land pollution, loss of arable land, massive overfishing problems, territorial disputes, energy conflicts, and water shortages. Asian governments, policymakers, scientists, and citizens must confront the myriad environmental difficulties to  navigate complex solutions in order to achieve a sustainable and environmentally-friendly Asia.

Development in Asia must strike a balance with its environmental costs. Sustainable development encompasses a wide variety of issues, including complex sociological and scientific problems. For instance, Jevon’s Paradox – the phenomena that increased efficiency leads to increased consumption and therefore increased waste – has long haunted environmental approaches to development. How should policymakers, researchers, and citizens address these central issues, with effective and feasible solutions?

Panel Topics:

1 – Environmental Agency

One of the greatest difficulties in solving environmental problems is the free-rider and collective action problem. Though everyone believes that the environment should be protected, often times the inconveniences associated with environmental protection lead individuals to continue maladaptive practices. However, government practices can only take us so far – laws are difficult to enforce and have often proven ineffective. On the level of human and collective agency, how should we approach the problem of the environment? For each institutional level (individual, civil, and government), where do boundaries of effective actions lie? Finally, how should we combine these different levels of agency to tackle core environmental issues?

2 – Environmental Justice

Unfortunately, environmental issues do not affect all people equally; environmental degradation has taken its toll primarily on underprivileged and minority groups. In many developing Asian countries, poor segments of the population drink contaminated water, witness their food sources being stripped away by the cities, and experience unfavorable living conditions and massive pollution. This panel will explore the importance of highlighting the experiences of these marginalized groups, and how to achieve a sustainable future that’s just for all.

Security and Diplomacy

Associate (Harvard): Archie Hall
Associate (Sydney): Hermi Human & Julian Vidal

Track Description:

In an era of escalating tensions around the Asia-Pacific region, the twin tools of Security and Diplomacy are becoming more important than ever. This panel will examine what the trends in the region are likely to be, and also the tools that leaders, citizens and policymakers have to navigate this future. The issues that will be discussed are wide-ranging, from China’s expansion in the South China Sea to Trump’s sabre-rattling with North Korea to the continued evolution of Indian foreign policy under Narendra Modi. Importantly, though, these issues are interlocked; a view of security and diplomacy that does not take account of the fundamental connectedness of modern geopolitical systems is likely to be an unsuccessful one. The future that international politics has in store for the Asia-Pacific region is a fascinating and complex one that this panel will seek to understand.

Panel Topics:

1 – Hard Power

Although the era of state-to-state wars in Asia seems to be in the past, the importance of developments ranging from North Korean nuclear testing to the potential remilitarization of Japan is substantial. How has the connectedness of the modern political landscape shaped issues of militarization? What is the role of coercive economic measures in promoting national or transnational interests?

2 – Soft Power

Just as important as hard power is in the modern era, soft power –which refers to influence that comes from cultural and non-coercive economic dominance– also has tremendous influence in this age. In this panel, we explore pressing questions including: what does it mean for international diplomacy to live in a world where China’s control of global economic and cultural currents is greater than ever? How do culture and media influence international diplomacy?

Health and Social Policy

Associate (Harvard): Michel Li
Associate (Sydney): Chamara Liyanage & Vitalina Pischenko

Track Description:

In the past few decades, Asia has become synonymous with economic growth. According to the Asian Development Bank, globalization, technological change, and market-oriented reform have contributed to Asian countries’ great economic growth and overall poverty reduction. However, this economic growth has facilitated rising income inequality in many countries. The causes of this economic growth and inequality – globalization, technological change, and market-oriented reform – are certainly difficult and likely detrimental to reverse or counteract.  Asian countries have struggled with addressing its effects to varying degrees of success.

In this track, we will focus on the forms of inequality in Asia and how these inequalities have contributed to changes in the healthcare sector. We will begin by addressing substantive questions: How does inequality manifest itself socially, economically, and politically in Asian countries? How does this differ from non-Asian countries? What variation is there among Asian countries? These questions will provide context for exploring options for the future: How can institutions address such inequalities? What roles do different institutions have in crafting the most effective solution, in order to create an equal Asia?

Panel Topics:

1 – Labor Policy and Migration

Globalization, technology, and market-oriented reforms have created higher demands both on labor in Asia and labor in Asia. A person’s technical skill and ability to successfully participate in Asia’s increasingly competitive labor market determines much of his or her income and social status. Laborers with greater technical skill are in demand and benefit greatly from recent modernization and change. But during this transition, what about those workers who are left behind, whose skills are being replaced by capital? How are different institutions – both domestic and international – grappling with such issues? How can they be more effective in doing so? How do labor migration patterns fit into this environment?

2 – Disability

Asian countries have difficult times tracking and advocating on behalf of disabled persons. Because there is often a stigma surrounding disability in Asian countries, individuals often hesitate at identifying themselves and others as disabled; this makes it difficult for any sort of institution to understand and support this population. According to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 1 out of every 6 people in Asia and the Pacific has some sort of disability. Given aging, poor labor conditions, and other accidents, this number is projected to increase over the years. What economic and social barriers to physically and/or mentally handicapped individuals face in Asian countries? What are the next steps toward destigmatizing disability in Asia?

Humanitarian Affairs

Associate (Harvard): Grace Pan
Associate (Sydney): Sally Choi & Scott Waddell

Track Description:

In the last few decades, political regime changes in Asian states have transformed the political tapestry from authoritarian to democratic or semi-democratic forms of government. With the progression of democratic governance, many Asian states have also ratified large quantities of international human rights conventions. Nevertheless, the region continues to be marred by cases of human rights violations and selective application of protective laws by the sitting governments. Presently, in 2017, the multitude of human rights abuses is rife — from regressive laws which violate LGBTQ right, to stifle freedom of expression; from religious persecution and continual implementation of capital punishment to the abuse of refugees and those seeking legal asylum in detention centers. In this Humanitarian Affairs track, we will explore, investigate, and begin to create solutions to equip leaders with the tools to repair injustices and advocate for human rights around the world.

Panel Topics:

1 – Balancing Governance and Human Rights: Social Welfare, Progress and Development

States often use their independent governance (sovereignty) to renege on human rights conventions which they have ratified. Governments are able to justify discriminatory behavior that violates international human rights conventions by claiming a right to effectively run their own states and a duty to protect their citizens. In light of this conflict, the social welfare, progress, and development of human rights have stagnated, and in some cases, regressed. Why are states struggling to successfully balance governance and human rights? What are viable solutions to ensure state governance and human rights are able to coexist effectively?

2 – Nationality, Statelessness, Asylum and Refugees

Today, at least 10 million people around the world are denied a nationality. Whether due to discrimination against particular ethnic or religious groups or the emergence of changes in borders, statelessness has serious consequences. Stateless people often struggle to acquire basic rights such as healthcare, education, employment and freedom of movement. Without these rights, it is easy for stateless people to lose dignity or hope. In this panel, we will explore the responsibilities of governments, human rights organizations, civil society groups, lawyers, and academics to work together to reduce statelessness and identify the status of stateless refugees.


Stay tuned for more information!